Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Let's face it -- allergy symptoms are no fun. It can be hard to enjoy life or feel good about yourself when your nose is running, your eyes are itching, and you can't stop sneezing. And you may feel depressed by the thought of giving up things you enjoy -- like hanging out with your pets or spending time in the garden -- just so your allergies don't flare. So maybe it's time to take stock and figure out how bad your allergies really are. You need the big picture in order to know what else you could be doing to keep your allergies under control and get back to doing the things you love to do.
What Kind of Allergies Are They?
To know if you're treating yourself correctly, you need to know what kind of allergies you have. Which statement best describes your symptoms?
A. My allergy symptoms come and go, depending on the time of year.
B. My allergy symptoms are present year-round.
If you answered A, you probably have seasonal allergic rhinitis. This is an allergy that occurs during a specific season or seasons, when the allergen you are sensitive to is most present in the air. You may only need treatment when your specific allergen is in your immediate environment.
If you answered B, you may have perennial allergic rhinitis. This means that your nasal allergy symptoms occur year-round and probably are the result of allergens that are always present, either in your home or outdoors.
How Bad Are They?
Next, you need to be realistic about your current situation. How much do your allergies affect your life? Ask yourself the following questions:
• Do my allergies make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep?
• Do I feel tired during the day because of my allergies?
• Do I sometimes avoid social situations or planned activities because of my allergies?
• Do I feel unwell or unhealthy, in general, because of my allergies?
• Are my allergy symptoms upsetting to me or making me feel unhappy?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, consider seeing your doctor to review your current allergy management program.
Whether you’re a fitness fanatic or a recovering couch potato, nothing can kill your motivation faster than monotony. What’s more, if you do the same old workout for months on end, your body will eventually adapt to it and leave you stuck at a fitness plateau. Fortunately, there are several easy ways to spice up your routine so you can keep boredom at bay and enhance your results.
Try these steps to start recharging your workout today:
Gift Yourself a Gift: Instead of viewing exercise as an obligation, consider it an investment in—and a gift to—yourself. Along those lines, focus on the fact that your fitness regimen will give you more energy for friends and family in the long run.
Go Back to the Future: For an instant motivation boost, think back and remember your best workouts. Recall the aspects of exercising, such as the challenge and the sense of satisfaction, that you enjoyed most.
Ease Back Into Exercise: If you’ve taken a break from fitness, returning at the same pace could undermine your efforts and put you at risk for injuries. Instead, try to start slowly, with less intensity, and increase the pace as your body adapts.
Buddy Up: Friends who exercise at the same pace can keep each other motivated. So ask your friends to partner up with you—who knows, maybe your buddy’s routine has grown stale, too.
Achieve a Balance: One of the biggest fitness mistakes is either expecting an immediate payoff or looking too far ahead. While it’s beneficial to have long-term goals, try to focus on smaller mini-goals and be patient when it comes to seeing results.
Reward Yourself: Once you reach your first set of mini-goals, be sure to reward yourself. Is it a new set of workout clothes? A luxurious massage? A body-hugging dress? Whatever it is, be sure it makes you happy.
Split It Up: If your entire workout routine seems daunting, divide your exercises into smaller, more manageable chunks. That way, it’s more likely that you’ll complete your activities.
Enjoy the Little Things: Instead of concentrating on your exercise objectives, focus on the little things that make fitness worthwhile. Maybe it’s the way you feel after you’ve finished a workout, the extra three minutes you stayed on the treadmill, or the fact that your favorite suit fits better.
Reap the Benefits: If you find yourself losing motivation, stop and think about how your workout will yield specific health benefits, such as lowering your blood pressure and reducing your disease risk.
Leave It to the Pros: If you’re having trouble getting back on track, it may be helpful to book a few sessions with a professional trainer. He or she can help you diversify your routine and take it to the next level.
Shop Around: When it comes to shopping for a gym, be a savvy consumer. Consider price, quality, and convenience, and be sure to visit a few facilities before you sign on the dotted line.
Mix It Up: Changing up your routine is a great way to get out of a funk. Try a new class, like spinning or Pilates, or switch from the treadmill to the elliptical machine. In addition, consider a change of atmosphere—instead of doing laps at the gym, grab your hiking boots and hit the trails.